By: Staci Stallings
At this time of the year most everyone looks forward. They set resolutions, make their plans for the new year, and make a bee-line for where they want to go. I used to do that too–big time. Lists and lists–literally a notebook of them. When I made them, I was excited, but in the end they always frustrated me because I’d write down the books I wanted to read, never accounting for the books God would put in my path that I was supposed to read. I would write down the books I wanted to write, never accounting for the books I had no idea God had in mind. And I would write down everything else–how many pounds I wanted to lose, how many dollars I wanted to have, how many things I wanted to accomplish.
Always by about February or March, I would see my plans not working out, new opportunities come up that just didn’t give me time to do the other things, or more basically, I would just see plans change. So I quit with the lists. For awhile I would make a general resolution–like listening to God and having the courage to do what He said when He said it, or being an angel to as many people as possible. These were a better fit and really took my life in good new directions.
This year, I think I want to start a new tradition–that of looking back instead of forward. I think we get into the mindset that forward has to be better than backward because when we look back, we tend to focus on the things that didn’t go right. The downs of the year. Maybe it was the loss of someone special or a crisis. Maybe it was just making it through day-to-day or living in fear. I’m not negating those things. They are painful and not very cheery to think about–believe me, I know.
But here’s what I’ve learned over the past year. Often we spend so much time looking forward and lamenting about how far we have to go that we forget to look backward and really appreciate how far we’ve come. Has the journey been all wine and roses? Probably not. Have we gotten bumps and bruises along the way? Probably. But the fact, is we’ve come a long way, Baby!
Think for a moment of the books that came into your life this year that really changed how you see things. I know there were several of those for me including The Joy of Encouragement, How People Change, Why, Our Secret Identity, and My Emily. All of these have given me a new understanding of people, of how tragedies and triumphs shape us, and how I can better love those around me.
Think for a moment of the experiences you had this last year that you wouldn’t trade anything for. A big birthday celebration perhaps, or seeing a loved one for the first time in a long time. A trip maybe, or just a quiet evening alone. Count each of these a blessing as well.
Think for a moment of all the lives you’ve touched and all those who have touched you. Maybe it was a friend who showed up at just the right time, or maybe it was someone with an unexpected gift. Maybe it was a hug you really needed, or a party you never thought they remembered to throw.
Think for a moment of the changes in you, in your own heart. How far have you come to being a better person, a wiser, more compassionate person?
Think for a moment of those life-changing events, yes, even the sad ones. As I told my mom right after my brother died, “And now we know how to love on a deeper level.” If those hard events have taught you compassion and mercy, forgiveness and that healing is possible beyond tragedy? Be thankful for that.
So how far have you come in this last year? Have you seen God–in the face of a child or someone special, in the face or kindness of a friend or a stranger? Have you been the face and reflection of God to others? Celebrate that… even in the smallest amount.
As I look back on 2011, I am so grateful to God for all the blessings. It’s been an amazing year!
I thank each of you for your part in making that for me. For all those who have written in or spoken to me to tell me you are thinking, you are praying, or that something I wrote touched you, THANK YOU!
And now I pray that you too will be able to bless the year that has past so you can move into the New Year with hope, joy, and peace!
God bless you all! Have an awesome day!
Broken was never in his plans…
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